Ever wondered how long your favourite apps take to open on Ubuntu?

Maybe you’re keen to see if Snap app startup times are as notoriously un-nimble as claimed. And maybe you want to see if any of the ‘speed improvements’ Canonical often hypes up have a tangible effect on your system versus whatever their chosen benchmark is.

If so, Ubuntu developer Marco ‘3v1n0 Trevisan is on hand to help with his Applications Startup Time Measure extension for GNOME Shell. This software stopwatch does exactly what it claims: it tells you how long an app takes to open, from when you click its shortcut to when it appears on your screen, ready to use.

When the extension is installed and enabled it’s good to go; no further configuration is required. Next time you open a (compatible, see below) app the extension will measure it and tell you how long it took to launch.

I tried Applications Startup Time Measure on one of my Ubuntu 22.04 LTS installs to see how fast (or otherwise) the Mozilla Firefox Snap is:

firefox snap startup time
Loading times, innit

According to this extension it took Firefox 15,800 ms to haul its multi-coloured posterior into view on my system so I could get on with blogging/doom scrolling/having existential breakdowns on Twitter.

The 15800ms might look fast but when when I compared it to Google Chrome (.deb) on the same machine it was anything but: Chrome’s start-up from cold boot is a comparatively fleet 4,800 ms. For Snap apps, it’s clear there’s still ample room for improvement.

I did want to compare the Firefox Snap with the Firefox binary I have on the same device. Sadly, Marco’s extension wouldn’t (or couldn’t, as something may be wrong with my config) ‘measure’ this. Only apps ‘properly’ installed from the repo, Snap Store, or Flathub were measurable.

Another thing to note is that on Ubuntu 22.04 LTS this extension relays launch times using an OSD. This doesn’t stay on the screen very long and is easy to miss, especially if an app opens maximised. On older versions of GNOME Shell (this add-on supports GNOME 3.36 and above) startup time is shown via a regular alert bubble (which loiters in the notification shade until you dismiss it).

I’d be interested to see your scores, so if you install the app be sure to share some screenshots in the comments!

Download GNOME Extensions startup times